Last night I watched the Green Mile. I had forgotten how truly beautiful and well done that film was. It was also rather apropos after a conversation I witnessed/participated in on Reddit yesterday. There was a thread talking about how Sandra day O'connor retired from the Supreme Court in order to take care of her husband as he progressed through Alzheimer's. In the thread there were hateful, obnoxious trolls saying how glad they were that she had to go through that and how such a terrible person deserved that amount of pain and suffering.
I was flabbergasted. I do not understand how one can come to the point where they disagree with a person to the point of wishing great pain on them in this manner. I didn't agree with Obama on much, however I really, truly, hope that he lives a healthy life, his family is well, and he dies a satisfied old man surrounded by people who love him. I really don't like Trump, but I would never wish any harm on him, and I also hope that he lives a satisfied life. I find it incredibly sad that so many people out there are married to their perspective so completely that they dehumanize anyone who doesn't fit their mold.
That takes me back to The Green Mile. If you ever want to know how you should behave from an empathy perspective to people who don't deserve it, this movie is a master class. John Coffey aside, there is no doubt that each of the other death row inmates deserve to be there. While we don't know what they did, each of them (except Wild Bill) express remorse in one way or the other. They knew they had done the crime. These were guilty, convicted men destined to die for crimes that they absolutely committed (except...again, John Coffey.)
The way that Paul and the rest of the guards (except for that asshat Percy) treat these condemned men is how we should all strive to treat people. There is an argument that these men, in whatever act was so gruesome, waive their right to dignity and justice. The guards of the Green mile reject this. They do their duty, but they provide quiet and empathetic dignity to the inmates. They go out of their way to make things easier on them, and they listen and give respect. Their response to violence is judicious, and they even afford Wild Bill the highest possible level of respect he allows them to.
This goes deep into their personal ethos. Several times Brutus says "What happens on the Mile stays on the Mile." There is little to no oversight. Paul and his crew could easily get away with acting like Percy. These are condemned men and there's no reason they should be afforded any sort of concession. So while "what happens on the Mile stays on the Mile" is the rule, it is used to comfort...not to curse. It's not rules that keep them from torturing these inmates...it is their own morality.
How do we apply this to our lives?
First- How YOU treat others is NOT dependent on what they "deserve." How you approach people you disagree with or even hate does not say anything about them...rather, it says everything about you.
Second- Empathy is greater than justice. This is not to say that consequences should be damned, but rather understanding a person and putting yourself in their shoes is a powerful tool...much more powerful than balancing any social scale. You may have a conversation with a person you don't agree with...try to walk a mile in their shoes. Try to see their perspective. This doesn't mean that you have to ACCEPT their premise or agree that they are right, but it allows you to understand their perspective. Calling a person a racist is a super easy way to 'fight for justice' but it does little to help truly understand the situation.
Third- Keep peace in mind. There are situations that no amount of talking will resolve. What purpose does it serve for two people to continue an unhealthy conversation that leads to no where? Escalating and creating tension does absolutely nothing positive, and it is a worthless technique to try to convince or convict someone. React only to the point where peace is threatened. If peace is threatened...go somewhere else. It's not worth it. There is no reason to provoke anger; it is a selfish and heartless person who takes pleasure in pushing a person to the brink.